Friday, April 27, 2007

The Four Spiritual Laws?
the gospel is not an offer; but a command and call to follow Jesus Christ as Lord

This article was originally posted on July 14, 2005. I have revived it, for I have recently been asked questions about the issue of cheap grace and easy believism that continues to plague the church in America; the four spiritual laws tract--is it biblical; and the nature of biblical evangelism. In light of that, I thought this repost would prove helpful once again.

On a personal note, I am currently at the Toledo Reformed Theological Conference where I am humbled to be ministering in word and song along with these wonderful brothers: Dr. Tom Ascol, Dr. Stephen Lawson, Dr. Don Kistler, and Pastor Philip De Coursy. The theme of the conference is called, "Developing a Passion for Christ." I will be preaching on these three subjects: A Passion for Prayer (Col. 1:9-14); A Passion for the Gospel (Romans 3:21-26); and A Passion for the Glory of Christ (Hebrews 2:9-18). Your prayers would be most appreciated that I would faithfully cut straight His truth; that the Lord would be glorified in all that is proclaimed and sang; that all present would be strengthened in His gospel; and that the end result would be to see all our lives enflamed in further love, praise, and worship for Jesus Christ.

The Cross is a Radical Thing,
2 Cor. 4:5-7

There is probably no more widely known phrase on the love of God used today than, "God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life." The question is simple: is it biblical? Is that a true thing to say to all people anywhere? More significantly, how should this affect our presentation of the gospel in evangelistic crusades, settings or gospel appeals? I touch more on this in an article called Love the Lord Jesus Christ at AudienceONE. I hope you will read it as part of this discussion. God's love is undeserving; unmerited; unfailing; self-sacrificial; and unreciprocated. It is only available to sinners through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Millions of people around the world are familiar with this little witnessing booklet called, The Four Spiritual Laws. Due to my Wheaton upbringing, I even used this tract early in my Christian journey. However, upon closer scrutiny we must rightly ask, are those four spiritual laws biblical? Do they play upon our sentimental view of God that He has but one essential attribute, love, forgetting that He is also a God of justice, holiness, grace, wrath, mercy, and sovereignty? What if those "laws" were re-written from a truly biblical Reformed view--what would they look like? What would they say? Would millions use them... or shun them? Here is my attempt and offering to you. (Warning: some of the language used may sound shocking to our postmodern ears...if you are offended by any of the verbiage... it is purely intentional.)

LAW ONE: God is holy, loving and just and has a plan for your life that He predetermined in eternity past according to His sovereign purpose and pleasure before anything that was made, was made. But God "hates all who practice iniquity" (Psalm 5:5) and is "angry with the wicked everyday" (Psalm 7:11). "There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one" (Romans 3:10-12). God's holy anger not only burns against the sin, but the sinner too. Who is God angry with? Who does God hate? Who are these "all" that these verses are talking about? It's you and me--everyone that's ever been born. You've heard it said, "Love the sinner; hate the sin." But both the sin and the sinner are an offense to a holy God.

As the Apostle Paul says, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). How can we possibly satisfy God and be at peace with Him forever? (Isaiah 64:6; Matthew 7:12-29).

LAW TWO: Man is totally inable to save himself for he is totally depraved and thoroughly sinful due to Adam's original sin in disobedience to God's command in the garden; which has been imputed to all of Adam's posterity--encompassing fully the guilt and penalty of his sin. Therefore, man is incapable of pleasing and satisfying a holy God by his own good works, religious practice or ceremony; or by charitable, philanthropic acts of kindness toward God and His creatures. Man is not a sinner because he committs acts of sin; man is a sinner because by nature he is sinful, conceived in sin; and thus, before doing any deed - having any thought, motive or desire contrary to the law of God, he is guilty of the wages sin which is death. This is not because he does sinful things, but because by nature he is thoroughly sinful which can only eventually manifest acts of sin. Left in that sinful state in which he was born he will surely inherit God's wrath forever in hell. Therefore, man's righteousness is worthy only of being called "dirty filthy rags"; rendering us condemned as vessels of wrath for all eternity. God's law strips man of all confidence before a holy God and in his own ability to save himself; convicting him of sin and acting as a tutor leading men to faith in Christ. (Galatians 3:15-29; Psalm 51:5; Jeremiah 16:17; Romans 3:10-18; Romans 9:11-23; Ephesians 2:1-3; John 3:36; Romans 5:12-18).

LAW THREE: Christ alone is the way, the truth, the life. He lived the perfect, sinless life; He alone satisfied God and fulfilled all righteousness and the Law in His life, death and bodily resurrection so that that same righteousness, by grace through faith, can be imputed to every believer in Him so that we might have peace with God forever. And even "the faith" to believe is a grace-gift from the Lord. Christ, though being sinless, holy, and undefiled was treated on the cross as if He lived our life, so that we being sinful, unholy and completely defiled might be treated, by grace through faith, as if we lived His life. He was the perfect, sinless High Priest; and He was the perfect sinless sacrificial Lamb given. He is both Savior and sacrifice; Priest and propitiation; Lord and Lamb. (Hebrews 7:23-28; Romans 3:21-26; Romans 5:1-2; Hebrews 2::9-18. 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 2:1-2).

LAW FOUR: Repent from your sin (deny yourself), turn to Christ (take up your cross) and take the gift of the Holy Spirit (and follow Him). Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. Submit to Him as Lord and receive Him as Savior. Knowing that it is only by Him granting to you the grace and saving faith for salvation that you can know Him and His unfailing love in your life. Rejoice in your deliverance knowing that God's love was demonstrated on the cross through Christ Jesus by dying for sinners like you and me. In place of His wrath, He now gives you grace; in place of His justice, He gives you mercy; in place of His enmity, He gives you His eternal love. What a wonderful, merciful Savior we have in Christ Jesus our Lord. (2 Corinthians 7:10; Matthew 16:24-26; John 10; Romans 10:9-10; Ephesians 2:8-9).

This is God's loving plan of salvation!

Or, they could read like this in a more direct, pithy manner. (same Scripture passages apply):

LAW ONE: God is holy; and He is angry with all sinners and their sin. He has a plan for your life whether for eternal life or eternal wrath.

LAW TWO: There is nothing anyone can do about it. Man is sinful and utterly lost. He is totally depraved, conceived in sin, and is incapable of saving himself, pleasing God, or satisfying the Lord's righteous demands by his own merits or his own efforts of works righteousness. There is nothing we can do in our own strength, goodness, religious acts, or humanitarian gestures of kindness to please Him and earn eternal life.

LAW THREE: But Christ came and died in our place and fulfilled God's law and all righteousness, took all of the sin, its guilt and penalty that would ever be committed by everyone that would ever believe; and all of the wrath of God that burns against our sin on the cross; so that by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, on the Word alone, to the glory of God alone, we would have the hope, surety and promise of eternal life.

LAW FOUR: May God grant you saving faith and the grace to repent of your sin and receive Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior for eternal life so that you may have peace with Him forever! His love, mercy and grace no one can ever take away once your life is hid in Christ.


Peter O said...

That wouldn't be the Bible you're trying to exposite there would it Steve? Nice post...

homo unius libri said...

Classic Camp...Great stuff! I will be quoting and linking this in my blog...

Bret said...

I read this once before, excellent. Thank you for reposting it on your Blog. Keep writing, preaching, and singing for the glory of God, brother.

Pastor Bret Lovitz
Grace Fellowship of Mtn. Home, ID.

Jus Divinum said...

"God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life."

Yeah, there's a major flaw here. At best, we're only warranted in affirming the above statement to all and sundry *if* we delete the word 'wonderful' :-)

Efrayim said...

How 'bout this:

Elohim loves His people and already had a plan in place for this age. You may be part of that plan.

Jus - or you could say, "has a very difficult plan that contains a wonderful ending."



loren said...

Hi Steve,

Like you, I’ve grown disillusioned with the four spiritual laws over the years, and I would offer four different laws, or maybe I should say ‘points’. Those points would be:

1. An understanding of who Jesus is (see Rom 10:9)

2. Jesus died for our sins, according to the Scriptures.

3. Jesus was raised again on the third day, according to the Scriptures.

4. Jesus was seen, after His resurrection, by many witnesses.

These, of course, are the four points of the gospel mentioned by Paul in Romans 15:1-5. Each time the gospel was preached in the Book of Acts we saw those points included (Rom 1:16). In and of themselves, they include all the food for thought we need. For example, what does it mean that Jesus died for our sins?

Well, it means that the wages of sin is death. It means we were the ones who reallydeserved to die. It means He took our place (It also means He was able to satisfy God by taking our place) etc. Okay then, if those things are true, how should we respond?

Well, sin made a separation between ourselves and God, so reconciliation includes repenting of our sins. If He gave His life for us, we are indebted life-for-life: we must dedicate our own lives to Him. Etc. This barely scratches the surface of the wealth of potential in those four points.

The point I’d disagree with you on has to do with love. God sent Jesus into the world because He so loved the world, not because He basically hates us. In fairness, His love is not based on our being lovable, but on His own ability to love another, whether we are worthy or not, or even whether we happen to like it or not.

I can’t imagine anyone responding to a message that God basically hates them. I think the premise in evangelism should always be that God is reaching out to them as an act of love:

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
(Rom 5:8)

Also, I think the elbow you threw at McLaren was an uncalled for side show. Brian has doctrinal problems, but reaching out to people in love isn’t one of them. A gospel presentation should be as focused on Christ as possible (1 Cor 2:2), so it leaves your listener with just one issue to consider. It dilutes your message to introduce other, competitive thoughts unless the immediate context offers you no alternative.

Jus Divinum said...

Holy cow,

It wasn't until I read loren's comment that I realized that neither of the two editions of the four spiritual laws blogged in this post had *any* mention of the love and grace of God (except for a very brief reference at the very end of the second version of law four). The spiritual laws of how God relates to people have next to nothing to do with the grace and love of God?

Think of how many times the grace of God is mentioned in the book of Acts in the context of the evangelistic ministry and message of the church:

Ac 13:43 Now when [the meeting of] the synagogue had broken up, many of the Jews and of the God-fearing proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, were urging them to continue in the grace of God.

Ac 15:11 "But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are."

Ac 20:24 "But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.

Paul characterized his message as "the gospel of the grace of God," but there's little mention of grace in these versions of the four spiritual laws.

Not the mention the theme of the love of God which is pervasive throughout the Gospel of John, which had an explicitly evangelistic purpose (cf. 20:30-31).

Isn't something out of whack here? Is it possible to correct an error by lurching too far in the other direction?

Jeremy Weaver said...

You've probably seen this before but just in case you haven't, Matthias Media produces a track called "2 Ways To Live".
2 Ways To Live
This tract teaches the message of the Salvation in six points.
I'm sort of on topic, aren't I?

Bhedr said...

Steve has good points in there. We all carry a little leaven around with us. At best when all cylinders are hitting we can do about 70%. I give him all of that.

The point is that we are all to often so humanistic in our theology.

I often hear the statement, "Inside of every one of you is a God shaped Vacuum that only God can fill."

Well somewhat true. I sometimes think what should be said is,"Inside of every one of you is a pagan shaped Golden calf worshiping Vacuum that only Satan can fill."

God has to create the opposite vacuum and stir you to hunger.

Of course it is true that God knows us better than we know ourselves and he knows we want everything but Him.

Bhedr said...

Hey Steve if you grew up in Wheaton the Vatican II then I must have been in Mecca(Greenville, S.C)coming from a long line of Bo Jo's that were always in a constant state of Jihad.

Jeremy Weaver said...

C.S. Lewis I think coined that phrase. I tend to agree with him. Satan is already in that vacuum inside of us and he can't fill it. The work of God is God revealing to us that it is He alone who can fill the void and thereby produce joy and satisfaction.
Saint Augustine said something like, "O God, our hearts are restless until we find our rest in Thee," which illustrates basically the same point.
I think I understand your point though.

Bhedr said...

Wow Jeremy thanks. I didn't know C.S Lewis said that. I thought I just thought it up. Ha Ha. Sometimes when I hear stuff like that then I know the Sprit is indeed speaking within us. You are right though. I sometimes think our flesh is Satan incarnate. I believe that's the glory in Christ in that he makes it subject to him. It's an amazing thing that God has done.

Bhedr said...


Consider one other thing:

Mormons and Jehovah's witnesses as well as many Catholics find contentment. Maddona fills that void with Kabbala and on it goes.

Did you watch The Last Samaurai? What were the last words the narrator of the story said in regards to the peace found in Buddhism.

I guess my point is man will dance around the mullberry bush with Christ dead(although alive) in front of him; yet will not bow the knee and recieve him as Lord and Saviour; as his only hope.

It takes supernatural enlightenment from the Father to open the eyes as Jesus told him Flesh and blood has not revealed... but my Father...

The Fig tree cannot bear figs out of season.

The rich young ruler came running...very anxious.

It is a hard thing; truly impossible thing to explain in my feeble humanity and make it cognizable.

I guess that is why I believe in the power of prayer so much. I wish I prayed more than I do. Think of what would happen if we all did. Prayer has the power to cause God to repent(change His plans in some way; although I don't fully understand that either and don't wish to try to explain it) of the evil he plans against others. In regards to jugement.

Maybe He waits on us to see how much we care about the blind around us. i don't know; but I think prayer is the answer to all of this. Not more programs; seminars, soda pop plastic bannana good time rock and roll evangelism that is so permeating everything today.

Rick said...

"God's hatred burns against you..." sounds more like Edwards than the apostles. I think it is right to remember that God hates the workers of iniquity, but I think this is a qualified hatred- because there is a qualified love for them at the same time. His love is what keeps them around. "For God so loved the world..." is a qualified love. He doesn't love them in their sin, but loves them in the sense that He desires they be saved.

We should never leave someone with "May God grant you saving faith and the grace to repent..." That takes any responsibility away from them and it is foreign to the evangelical calls of the Bible: "Repent and Believe! Turn from your sin...Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved... etc."

Monergism has no place in evangelical commands and invitations. If you must teach it, leave it for later solely to those who have already responded to the call.

Nathan White said...

I agree with the gist of your first two paragraphs. But certainly not “Monergism has no place in evangelical commands and invitations. If you must teach it, leave it for later solely to those who have already responded to the call.”

“If you must teach it”? Well, Monergism is the rock solid teaching of scripture. And holding back any truth of scripture is serious disobedience. Paul charged Timothy to “rightly divide the word of truth”, and he also said in Acts “I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God”. Whether to teach it or not is a matter of our obedience to God, not a matter of personal preference.

Consider John Piper when contemplating the positives of teaching this doctrine: “The doctrine of election tends to give firmness and fiber to flabby minds. It tends to produce robust, thoughtful Christians who are not swept away by trendy, man-centered ideas. It has an amazing preservative power that works to keep other doctrines from being diluted and lost. In general it tends to press onto our minds a God-centered worldview built out of real objective truth.”

“Leave it later solely to those who have already responded to the call”. Sounds like the old bait and switch. Paul again has stated: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes”. Therefore, all of God’s revealed Word has the power to save, and is the only thing that has the power to save. The hard doctrines of grace will not push away anybody except those who are among the reprobate. On the contrary, this doctrine will draw in the elect with astounding consistency.

I’m not saying shove TULIP down their throats and nothing else, and I’m certainly not saying to completely take the responsibility off of the sinner to repent. I’m saying to not shy away from any truth of scripture, but rather proclaim the whole counsel of God and trust Him to save through the “foolishness of the message preached”.

So then, we should proclaim Monergism whenever and wherever the opportunity properly presents itself, and trust God to “cause the increase”.

Jus Divinum said...

In fairness to Mr. Camp, Rick is only citing the second version of the fourth law that Mr. Camp provided. In the first version, he said:

"Repent from your sin (deny yourself), turn to Christ (take up your cross) and take the gift of the Holy Spirit (and follow Him). Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. Submit to Him as Lord and receive Him as Savior."

That's a bit more representative of the actual evangelistic preaching in the book of Acts. It's a clear summons to repentance and faith.

However, in response to Nathan, I think what Rick was getting at is that you don't *preach monergism in the gospel message*. You just don't see that in Scripture, although *when writing to Christians* Paul and others explain and defend monergism.

So, when Rick says that "Monergism has no place in evangelical commands and invitations," it looks like he has ample biblical basis for this, doesn't he?

Nathan White said...

Jus Divinum said:

"You just don't see that in Scripture, although *when writing to Christians* Paul and others explain and defend monergism…. So, when Rick says that "Monergism has no place in evangelical commands and invitations," it looks like he has ample biblical basis for this, doesn't he?"

I would certainly argue otherwise. Picking out a few select passages in Acts and saying that the Monergism has “no place” in the gospel call is ignorant to the whole of scripture. And to believe that the gospel call is something different than what Paul writes “to Christians” is also pretty far-fetched. For are we to rely on historical narratives alone when emulating the gospel call? Definitely not. Instead, Paul said to “emulate me”, and that would definately include the objective truth of his writings.

In addition to Jesus Himself preaching Monergism countless times, we do have records in Acts of this doctrine in the gospel call.

-Acts 2:38-39: “Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus…For the promise is to…as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”

-In Acts 4:27-28 it is discussed how even the sin of man is ordained by God for His glory.

-Acts 8:22 is where Peter says to the sorcerer Simon “your heart is not right…repent…and pray the Lord that if possible…[you] may be forgiven”.

-In Acts 13:44-48 Paul and Barnabas basically told the gentiles that the Lord has now chosen to ‘turn to the Gentiles’.

Just because the Apostles don’t say “God has to chose you or you cant repent” outright and directly certainly doesn’t mean they didn’t preach Monergism.

But as I said before, Christ preached Monergism to the lost and unbelieving countless times! Now granted, this is not a popular topic among unbelievers, and the response was somtimes hostile. Just to name 2 instances, in Luke 4:14-30 they tried to throw Jesus off a cliff for proclaiming the sovereignty of God, and in John 6:65-66 it states:

“And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.” As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore”.
Now THAT is outright and direct Monergism to a lost crowd. And the ones who rejected it were unbelievers; the ones who stayed were the chosen.

So as I said before, if you fear man, if you fear offending others, if you want to raise the apostasy rate among those who hear your message, if you want to trust in your “cleverness of speech” to persuade men instead of the “power of God”, then refrain from proclaiming the whole counsel of God. Otherwise, mixing in Monergism in a loving (and not condescending!) way will do more to help draw in those who are sincerely humble and repentant.

Bhedr said...

The point always needs to be made that you do not seek Him. He seeks you in spite of yourself. This immediately explains the Love of God. He is the only one in history to love the ugly duckling without it turning into a swan.

Luther mistakenly used a dungpile analogy in that snow covered it and made it beautiful. In reality God creates a golded nugget at the bottom of the dungpile and spends a lifetime sifting through it to find it and bring it home. He looks at the dungpile and sees the mess and smiles at what is at the bottom.

Rick said...

Thanks for fair reminder, Jus Divinum- it was stated better in the 'fleshed out' first version.

Nathan,I don't think the scriptures from Acts apply expressly to the commands- even in the case of Simon the sorcerer- Peter commands him to repent. Then states it may be that he will be forgiven. But he does not tell him he cannot repent.

The other Acts passages and Luke 4 do not reveal monergism in any invitation or command. Your reference to John 6 is much more convincing, although even that is a teaching given AFTER the fact of their unbelief and not in the command.

I guess you could say that monergism appears before one answers the call, but is it not safe to say that it does not enter directly into the call itself?

I really think some monergists go much too far. From a pulpit I heard a preacher talk about the fire and zeal of his first sermon: he had implored the congregation to "give yourself to God!" But after the sermon one of his elders came to him and said, "you know what, they can't." The young preacher said he realized his error and never gave such an invitation again.

Whatever one's views on monergism are, that to me sounds like a very sad story- a quenching of fire, and a rendering almost pointless the task of preaching.

Reformer said...


As usual, excellent work! I will indeed link this article to my Blog, where I have a forthcoming post on "The HEart of the Gospel."

In the Grace Evangelism classes I teach at our church (I am an Outreach Pastor), I use a very monergistic "four spiritual laws."

GOD - is Holy and demands perfection. Good people don't go to heaven, only perfect people.

MAN - is utterly unable to reach that standard of perfection, both by nature and practice we fall short. We have no ability to love, serve, or even desire God until He does something to awaken our deadness.

CHRIST - offers to trade our sin for His righteousness, which He is able to do because He satisfied the eternal and total wrath of God by His submission and obedience on the cross.

YOU MUST - Possess genuine Faith alone, in Christ alone - which invloves repentance and obedience as the natural outworking of faith.

Good thought Campi! Prach on Brother!

Grace to You!

Jus Divinum said...


Thou hast refuted me from John 6. I had forgotten about that passage. I repent of my earlier comments on this point :-)

timothy said...

from your version of Law 1, you stated God's hatred towards man. that is true. but dude, duality does not apply here. when you speak of God's hatred, you also imply that God vis-a-vis does not love man. you know, as much as everyone else here does, that that is wrong. yet from that principle you base your entire argument, at least for Law 1. God loves man, and as much as it is tempered by justice, that love led Him to offer Jesus Christ as His wonderful plan for man if he accepts Him as Lord and Savior.

SJ Camp said...

Dear Temi:

Thank you for your post. Let me try to clarify. I am not saying that God doesn't love man--of course HE DOES! What I am saying is that His saving love is not universally applied to ALL mankind... biblically (Roms. 9:11-21).

I know that our culture and the church at large has been "Oprahfied" today. Meaning: God has been reduced to one attribute--love with consideration for any of His other attributes being negated. Because of this, it seems that it is only through this one attribute to almost the wholesale exclusion all His other divine attributes are being overshadowed.

"God so loved the world" - lost people, not every single individual. "God demonstrated His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christi died for us" - Who is the "us" here - those whom the Father has given to the Son (John 17; 2 Tim. 1:9) again, not every single individual. "He is the propitiation not only for our sins, but for the sins of the whole world." Whole world is not every single individual, but means the gospel is for all kinds of people in the whole world. If the Lord propitiated (turned away God's wrath) on the cross for every single individual who has ever been born, then all people everywhere are saved. We know, however, this is not true (Matt. 7:21-23).

For those for whom are not, as Dr. MacArthur would say, a "love gift from the Father to the Son", His wrath permanently rests (or abides) on them (John 3:36). [See the "From the Study" section this month the brief definition and comparison of reprobation; preterition and condemnation.]

God's wrath (His eternal hatred of sin and sinners) abides (present tense) on all who do not know the Son--and have not been given faith and grace to obey and receive the call of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This again is the motivation for Edwards classic sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." Before we come to know we are all under His wrath worthy in our own righteousness of eternal perdition. But through Christ we may have peace with God forever (Rom. 5:1). We are to preach repentance to all men (Acts 17:30) for we do not know who the elect are. But we are not to give false hope for lost people by telling them that God loves them, but does not love them enough to save them. George Carlin the comedian made a quip about this a few years ago in a routine I saw him do on a talk show. He said something to the effect of, "I don't understand the Christian seems inconsistant. Let me give you an example: God loves you, He really does, but you're going to hell anyway."
It is confusing to nonChristians when we speak of God loving everyone the same and yet many are still going to hell without Him. This is imiportant in our witnessing to others. It should give some insight that what the contemporary church in America today feels is the most important thing to tell nonbelievers in sharing their faith, God loves you..., the book of Acts never records. Not once is the love of God ever recorded in the book that is giving us the historical unfolding of the church and the spreading of the gospel.

He is a God of love; He is also a God of holiness, justice, wrath, as well as a God of grace, mercy, compassion and love. But Christ came to satisfy God's perfect standard for righteousness through His sinless life, perfect High Priestly work, His once for all sacrifice on the cross as a propitiatory offering for our sin, and bodily resurrection from the grave.

Before God could love me, His holiness, justice and wrath had to be satisfied in Jesus Christ on the cross. His salfivic love is never separated from the atoning work of Jesus on the cross. If Christ never died for us as our divine substitute at Calvary, God could not love me--it would be impossible!

This is why the recovery of the Law in gospel preaching is so important. The gospel begins not with love, but with man's complete inability to satisfy God and His holy standards. The Law convicts, the gospel of grace (and love) brings the balm of forgiveness and God in His mercy to lost people grants those whom He has chosen saving faith to confess Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives through the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:4-7).

What a wonderful, meerciful Savior we have and serve. I am so grateful for His love through Christ to me - for without Him I would surely perish and tormented for eternity. In place of His enmity He gave me His love...PTL?

I appreciate your thoughts and hope this helps clarify a bit more.

His Unworthy Servant in His Unfaling Love,
Phil. 2:5-11

Bhedr said...


This is a good thing you have written this thing in response to Temi. It is sound and if this is what you believe then I agree with you. This is why I wish all musicians in this contemporary age felt as you do.

Do you however feel that it is possible the Holy Spirits leading is of uptmost importance. I heard Dr. Lutzer mentioning a quote from Luther I think. "Man swings on a pendulum from pride to despair."

Some are so crushed and when they hear the healing words of Joel Osteen they see hope in God; yet Joel's sparsed doctrine can lead the proud man straight to hell.

Oprah on the other hand offers total self help void of any hope found in Christ.

Do you think some need to hear "God's wrath can flair up in a moment as you've spurned His law all your life and will only find hope in His son!" while others are starving to hear what the woman at the well heard, "If you knew the Gift of would ask." ?

Of course sin should always and must always be dealt with in good measure and the hiding of it in secret before one can accept His Atonement.

Also having grown up in the heart of Fundamentalism(Dr Rod Bells school BJ's best friend) it awakened in us more of a desire to break God's laws as the school was engadged in much riotous living as teens. Sexs, Drugs and Rock and Roll.

After leaving home and getting away from that environment I later rested in Christ's grace and began in fellowship with brothers that were considered(navigator types) new-evangelical. Also listening to Kieth Green I realized He had a joy in His life that I was not experiencing as back home folk went around angry all the time and posting all apostate preachers in the weekly bulletin.

Where is the balance? i am still wondering myself.

2Tal said...

I agee with Steve, Nathan, Brain, and all the others here who are REFORMED!! It is interesting that although the modern age gospel mandate to tell everyone that Jesus loves them and died for them is fully intact, the Bible never mentions any of this in the gospel sermons preached to the lost EVER! There is a lot of "this Jesus whom you crucified, God has made both Lord and Christ", "turn" "repent" etc.etc. "God loves you so much that if you were the only person in the world He would have came and died just for you." Scripture and verse please... I like what Brian said about the leading of the Spirit. Be Biblical but hit them where they live. Good words brother.

Bhedr said...

Hey 2tal I think they get that from John 3:16. Ah hah ah hah hah. I couldn't resist brother. Oh ho ho ho; but I know what your saying. That is of course a bit of a stretch in hyperboleeee. If we were the only one on the planet? I don't know where preachers get that. Ray Bradberrys Martian Chronicles? I guess if we were the only one (we!ha) on the planet then it would be Adam and it would be over. Did anyone ever used to read the What If Marvel series(comix)

Nathan White said...

From what I understand, God's hate for the reprobate is futuristic in nature. For how can God hate a man when he is still alive and still has the opportunity to repent? Is God looking down the corridors of time and foreseeing that this man will reject Christ before he dies? And based on that knowledge, God hates that man for the futuristic total rejection of Christ? I don’t think so. But don’t get me wrong, I am certainly a 5 pointer all the way. But even still, God has given EVERY man life and goodness here on earth in order that they “should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him”. Only problem is, they will not seek Christ unless He seeks them first, but God still gives them life and opportunity to repent even though they cannot.

I believe that although it seems like a charade, God refrains from directing His hatred towards the reprobate until the complete rejection of His Son. I believe we see a hint of this in Matthew 13:14-15:

“Matthew 13:14-15 (NKJV)
14 And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive; 15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.”

Basically they couldn’t see or hear truth because the Father hadn’t chosen them to do so (John 6:65). But although they couldn’t come to believe, Christ quoting Isaiah mentions that if they did understand then they would be healed.

I believe this is also demonstrated in Matt 11:20 – 24:

“Matthew 11:20-24 (NKJV)
20 Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent: 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.”

Here we see that if the mighty works had been performed in other wicked cities (which God judged), then they would have repented! I believe that these miracles did NOT happen in these wicked cities precisely because they WOULD have brought repentance, and it was not in the Father’s perfect choosing that they repent.

Also in Rom 9:22:

Romans 9:22 (NKJV)
22 What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,”

God could justly destroy sinners at any time, but instead He patiently endures their rebellion rather than immediately giving them their just punishment.

So again, I believe that God withholds hatred from a sinner until all rejection of His Son has been made. At that time, yes, the hatred of God will manifest itself through eternal punishment. In the mean time, God shows common love and mercy towards the non-elect while they are still living here on earth –for anytime a person is still living, they haven’t fully and finally rejected Christ.

Finally, in regards to Romans 9:12, Paul quoted a passage from Mal 1:2-3 that was written some 1500 years after the death of Esau. Therefore, I believe this hatred of Esau came after his death and after he “sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it with tears.” Heb 11:16-17. The topic at hand in verse 11-12 is NOT God’s hatred of Esau, but instead God’s choosing of Jacob before any good or evil had been done. Therefore I do not believe we can rightly say that God hated Esau before he had ever been born.

So I certainly disagree with proclaiming God’s love for all of mankind and using this as an evangelical tool. Instead we need to show Gods anger towards sin and the dire need for repentance to escape the eternal wrath! In the words of Paul in Acts 17:

Acts 17:26-31 (NKJV)
“26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ 29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. 30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

Michele Rayburn said...

Hi Steve,

I don't think that the Church has been "Oprahfied" about God only being spoken of as "love". The unsaved world may seem to be, but the Church seems to be teaching doctrine (often legalistic doctrine) to the exclusion of love.

The Bible says that we are nothing without love, and yet I do not see it's principles expounded upon very often. And I believe that it has had it's effect on the body of Christ. If the Church is not "walking in love" then we are not spiritually mature...we are not "walking in the Spirit". And that is what is so lacking.

I don't think that we should over-emphasize that God hates the lost just because too much emphasis is being given to "For God so loved the world...". That would not be a biblical approach. Because the concept that "God so loved the world" may confuse the unbeliever is no reason to imbalance the Scripture regarding His love in order to aid in their "comprehension". It's not a matter of giving them "false hope" by telling them that "God loves them, but does not love them enough to save them", but rather, I do not think that it is biblically accurate. It can't be a matter of "enough" because that would suggest that the elect did something to cause God to love them more. And we know that is not true. We can say that God will not save all people, even though "God so loves the world", and it doesn't matter if it confuses them, because it is the truth. "God's ways are higher than our ways" and we can't always understand His ways. "The deep things belong to God". And, "The natural man cannot understand spiritual things". Those things that are hard to understand "belong to God". The clay is not to ask the Potter, "Why did you make me this way?"

But, we know from John 3:16 that God loves the world (the whole world) because in that same verse, God says "whosoever believes". This is a recognition that some (the "whosoever's") in the world will "come out from them" (come out from the world) and believe.

You say, "Before God could love me...", but nowhere does the Bible say God did not love His elect before He saved them. The Bible says that God chose you before the foundation of the world, which is an act of His love. He sees the end from the beginning and He still set His love upon you before you were created. When John 3:16 says "For God so loved the world...", was it before He knew them or after? God so loved the world always. There is no mention of time limitations on God's love or preconditions for His love.

God's love is the motivating reason (or, at least, the best known reason) for our salvation. It is because He loved us that He saved us. You said the Gospel begins not with love, but even the giving of the Law to convict man of sin was an act of love.

John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world (His love comes first) that He gave His only begotten Son (the good news comes second). The reason God gave His Son is because He so loved the world. God was motivated by His love.

"We love Him (why?) because He first loved us." (1 John 4:19)

Here are more Scriptures that show that God's love came first and that His love was the motivation for His salvation plan:

Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

1 John 3:16 "By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us."

1 John 3:9 "In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.

1 John 4:10 "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins."

This last verse, 1 John 4:10, by the way, together with 1 John 2:2 "And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world." is a clear Biblical statement of fact. For 1 John 2:2 to say "not for ours only, but also for the whole world" clearly states that God means "the whole world". Because, who is left over after He is the propitiation for our sins? The word "propitiation" does not mean "turn away God's wrath", but rather, it more closely means "to satisfy God's wrath" ("It does not make God merciful; it makes divine forgiveness possible"--The New Compact Bible Dictionary). It means that Jesus Christ's offer of Himself is a sacrifice that is sufficient for all. But it is not describing an act that is accomplished in all. The turning away of God's wrath comes after the act of propitiation is received by those who repent.

In response to your quote, "If Christ never died for us...God could not love me...", you are using a hypothetical premise to attempt to prove that God's love is conditional rather than quoting actual Scripture. But I would say "If Christ never died for us...God could still love you...", because He already declared that He so loved the world. Christ's death was another act of His love. Once again, God was motivated by His love to have Christ die for us.

The love of God is the motivation for the salvation of man, and the law is used to convict lost souls in order to show them their need for salvation.

If we see God as only angry toward unbelievers, I think we could very well become angry Christians, since we are imitators of God. God has the right to be angry because He knows how to be angry and not sin. He has a righteous anger, because underlying His anger is His perfect love.

In His Love,

2Tal said...

I agree with most of what Michelle says. However, with Christ as our High Priest I do not believe Christ could die for the purpose of eternally saving everyone or everyone would be saved. "He is the Savior of all men ESPECIALLY to those who believe." So we see that although his death may save everyone for a time and is sufficient for anyone who believes, it is an EFFICIENT propitiation for the elect. I would only change may view here if someone can explain to me why Christ said in his high priestly prayer before His passion "for their sakes I sanctify myself", and "I do not pray for the world but rather for those whom you have given me." In Romans 8 Paul says, "Who shall bring charge against Christ's elect. It is Christ who died futhermore who has risen and who ever lives to make intersession for us." If He interceeds for everyone in his atonement then this would hardly be an argument that no charge can be brought against His elect only. I don't see the point of having a high priest who offers a sacrifice for a people for whom he does not intercede on their behalf. As Owen says, that would make him a half priest. And yet when Christ intercedes for his people he says, "For their sakes I sanctify myself..." and "I do not pray for the world but those whom you have given me." As far a I John 2:2 goes, there are many reasons to think this verse is referring to his elect people scattered thruout the world and that the gospel has indeed come to the world of the Gentiles. (See Arthur Pink's "The Soveriegnty of God" for many good arguments) The only thing I mention off hand is to look at the similarity between I John and John where he says, "It was prophesied that he should die for the nation and not only for that nation , but that he should gather all of his elect who were scattered thruout the world." The grammatical structure is the same as I john 2:2

Michele Rayburn said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Michele Rayburn said...


I appreciate your response.

Just for clarification, I didn’t say that Christ died for the purpose of eternally saving everyone. I said He loves everyone.

And I didn’t say He intercedes for everyone, I said He loves everyone.

And particularly I was making the case, for Steve’s and whoever else’s benefit, that God loved us (the elect) with a saving love while we were yet sinners, even before the cross. And that the cross was because of that love, not the other way around.

In His Love,

2Tal said...

Hi Michele.

I appreciate your clarification. I apologize for reading into something that wasn't there. My original point was only that love is never mentioned in Acts or anywhere else in the gospel sermons of the apostles. Certainly there is mention of personal guilt, wrath, and repentance, but since they never preach love in the Bible I don't think God would condemn me if I refrained. He certainly could have had apostolic sermons explictly mentioning God's love for the lost to drive home emphasis on this point if He wanted. However, I do acknowledge John 3:16 which literally says "God loved the world to this extent, that all believers should not perish." I don't think that would mandate that we tell people individually that God loves them. However, I am not opposed to telling someone God loves them either. Therefore I am not opposing you on this. I would say this is simply adding a little food for thought. God does love everyone, though not necessarily in an eternal saving way. Being led of the Spirit is what's important in our approach. I like what John Piper says. "Do you feel loved by God because He makes much of you or because He has freed you up to make much of Him?" I agree with the idea that God would be an idolater if His own glory and name was not His supreme and overarching motive for everything including salvation. Our satisfaction only comes when God and not man is the ultimate reason of His actions. So "Yes!" I agree love is the reason why Christ died for us. The even deeper reason is "to the praise and glory of His grace."
Again I'm not correcting you as though you said something wrong. You make some really good points. and if nothing new is gleaned here then please pardon the redundancy.

mxu said...

I wonder if you'll be able to see this, but I just remembered this and linked to it.

while I agree with the original presentation, the summary suffers from the same problems the Four Spiritual Laws has.

1) God hates you and has a horrible plan for you isn't true at all. God hates the reprobate, God loves the elect. Only giving half the picture.

2) I pray that God may grant you faith. I agree that it is up to God, but we still must lay forth the command to repent and make it clear that it is God who makes us able.

Nice post though.

sonny said...

Hi Steve!

Have read your comments on 4SL. What proof can you give that this "Four Spiritual Laws" (4SL) is unbiblical? If this 4SL indeed unbiblical, what is biblical? Can we give proof that this 4SL went out of the true gospel? Can we present proof that 4SL is a poor presentation of the gospel?

Arthur Sido said...


Looking forward to hearing you minister this morning and afternoon! Hope you are enjoying the typical April weather in Toledo, cold and wet.


Monergistic1 said...

I agree with the way every law is put forward except the 4th. As it it is true that man can do nothing in and of himself, he still has the responsibility to repent and believe the gospel and so we are to set forth that proclamation as an imperative so as to leave the one whom the Holy Spirit draws through the Word as given in the first 3 laws, with instruction as to what to do, namely, repent and believe on Christ. (Acts 16:31) My thought is that the 4th law could say something like: You are commanded by God to repent and believe this gospel or suffer the eternal consequences of your sin under the wrath of God. As the Scriptures say; " The one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but one who disobeys the Son won't see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” John 3:36

Anyway, just a thought. May God continue to bless your ministry as you labour for him.

Marcia said...

I sometimes think what should be said is,"Inside of every one of you is a pagan shaped Golden calf worshiping Vacuum

Oh, that's good.

Michelle, great comment. Thanks for being so thorough.

splocek said...

Excellent article about the Four Spiritual Laws. Your ideas on the reformed faith I believe are right on target and biblical. Although the Lord used the Four Spiritual Laws in my life to become a christian at a Campus Crusade Conference in and around 1978. So I believe we are called to share at any time the love of God regardless of predestination etc.

True Blue Auctions said...

"The Four Spiritual Laws" is a false gospel, no doubt about it. The gospel is best summarized with an acronym known as the TULIP which was the reply to the heresies submitted to the Synod of Dort. It is quite simple, either God is Sovereign or He is not. If He is, then Christ's death actually accomplished it's purpose of redeeming God's people and giving justice to the wicked.